G4H: game accessibility research @ University of Nevada, Reno


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Invited talk at the Games for Health Conference workshop on game accessibility. This deck of slides discusses some of our research projects at the university of nevada in Reno such as a version of guitar hero that visually impaired can play. Interfaces to popular game genres for severe motor impaired and a virtual world interface that can be accessed with a screen reader.

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G4H: game accessibility research @ University of Nevada, Reno

  1. 1. Games 4 Health Conference, Boston Game Accessibility Workshop June 10th 2009 Game Accessibility Research @ Eelke Folmer
  2. 2. Overview 1.Introduction 2.Motivation for Research 3.Research Projects: 1 TextSL 4.Lessons Learned 5.Q&A
  3. 3. Eelke Folmer Assistant Professor (2006) Player-Game-Interaction Lab 2 MS. / 3 Ph.D / 1 PostDoc Research Interests: Dead Space  Human Computer Interaction  Software Engineering  Games / Virtual Worlds  http://www.eelke.com Wii-Fit  “You are what you play”: BioShock
  4. 4. Motivations
  5. 5. Games are pervasive Education Advertising Politics Military Simulations Health ...
  6. 6. Diverse audience More & more people are interested in playing games Varying amounts of experience & abilities Individuals with disabilities often face significant barriers to or are excluded from playing games What are these barriers? Illustrate with a Game Interaction Model
  7. 7. How do we play games? game output 3 different modalities input player
  8. 8. Detailed Steps 1.Game provides feedback {enemies/ gunfire/ sound} 2.Player decides what in-game response to provide: 1.(a) Do nothing. 2.(b) Move or reorient his/her character. 3.(c) Fire his/her gun. 4.(d) Change the weapon. 5.(e) Change the camera viewpoint. 6.(f) Reload, pause, or save the game. 3.The player must physically issue the chosen action(s) through a physical device. 4.The internal state of the game may change and new feedback may be provided
  9. 9. Synthesis 1. feedback 1. feedback 1. feedback 2. up/down 2. left/right/gas 2. left/right/shoot 3. button 3. wheel 3. button / mouse
  10. 10. Game Interaction model
  11. 11. Disability
  12. 12. Disability
  13. 13. Disability
  14. 14. Disability
  15. 15. Disability
  16. 16. Game Accessibility Stats ★Disability may affect ability to play to different extents ★Based on Census 2006 data & game interaction model we found that in the US: ★6.2 Million disabled are unable to play games at all ★25.9 Million disabled suffer from reduced game experience ★Elderly overly represented in our estimates. ★Nevertheless this will be a big problem in the future
  17. 17. Our research ★Understand exactly what barriers individuals with disabilities face. ★Research alternative ways to play: ★Feedback from alternative modalities ★Reduced amounts of input. ★while retaining game experience ★Focus on game genres that are NOT accessible ★More complex interaction models ★Provide examples & guidelines to the game industry.
  18. 18. Guitar Hero > 21M copies sold Dominate sales charts Not playable by
  19. 19. Viable strategies ? VI accessible games Guitar Hero • Speech • Interference with music • Earcons • Sonification • Too many stimuli • Audio Cues
  20. 20. Haptic output 5 Different “notes” ! Varying note lengths Lookahead <3 notes simultaneously ! ? ? Glove Pager engines (# ? ) “Haptic Cues”? Position?
  21. 21. Tradeoffs ! remove lookahead ! ★“whack a mole” gameplay Remove ★retain “guitar playing” feeling 1 button ★Easy to learn ★Fun!
  22. 22. Play testing
  23. 23. User Study Participants 8 sighted + 4 visually impaired age 20 - 41 (SD=4.5) Groups 1 sighted Blind Hero first time players 2 blind Blind Hero first time players 3 sighted Blind Hero experts on Guitar Hero 4 sighted Guitar Hero first time players Play 2 songs repeatedly (to measure increase) for 4 times
  24. 24. Results guitar Hero - novice expert VI novice Haptic is a viable strategy for Music based games Performance lower but could increase over time Most important: participants enjoyed the game
  25. 25. one switch games
  26. 26. Problem switch controller mouth controller eye tracker one handed joystick  rely upon adapted controllers Constrained (type/ amount) Suitable for arcade/puzzle games Not suitable for popular game genres (FPS, RTS, etc)
  27. 27. Research objective less ? Find smallest amount of input. Preserve gameplay. Find the “core” of the game. What strategies can be used? more
  28. 28. Experiences less ✔ ✔ ✔  Support all types of input  Find minimum (may not be binary 1 switch)  Identified the following mechanisms:  automation  reduction more  scanning  How do these change the gameplay?
  29. 29. Gordon’s Trigger Finger Be able to respond fast Scanning/automating/removing Idea: player on top of a bot? Evaluate alternatives Scanning too slow moving user automated Multiplayer only aiming user automated fire user user Railshooter switch weapons user random Balanced/ Fair open doors user automated FUN jump/crawl user removed
  30. 30. Video
  31. 31. One Switch Interfaces Music Puzzle Games virtual world Sports Games first person shooter
  32. 32. TextSL
  33. 33. Virtual Worlds Second Life / There / Active / Home Higher degree of interaction. Visually attractive Entirely driven by user generated content Virtual Economy Social Interaction most important Estimated: in 4 years 80% of internet users will have a VW account
  34. 34. Accessibility Problem ? ? ? Unlike Web, VW lack textual representation Not Accessible with screen reader / tactile display VW increasingly used as virtual classrooms / distance learning (Section 508) Communities for Disabled in SL (Virtual ability) Research how VW can be made accessible  develop prototype interface
  35. 35. Analyze differences virtual worlds video games  VW lack Combat/Storyline/Score  No need for quick responses as you cannot die  Everything is user generated (large amount of content you cannot change)  Viewer offers large number of functions including creating objects. Many operations on objects. Objects define their own functionality through scripts.  VW viewers is more like a browser.
  36. 36. Output Strategies  VI games (TerraFormers, AudioQuake, Shades of Doom) with similar interaction mechanisms as VW.  All use audio  Levels have minimum number of objects  Most strategies focus on being able to locate “enemies”  Earcons & Audio Cues (too many objects in VW & you cannot augment objects )  Sound Radar (not applicable)  Speech (applicable, but requires augmentation)
  37. 37. Controls  Controls the same as the original games (arrow keys)  Player has to do the pathfinding which is useful for mental mapping (dungeons)  Generic “use” command to interact with objects  Design of levels accommodates limited interaction & manual pathfinding  CS difficult to implement in Virtual worlds as  Large amount of objects & avatars  Large number of functions to support.  Mental mapping impossible in VW  Manual Pathfinding is very hard
  38. 38. Different approach  Command based interface (TextSL):  Inspired by multi user dungeon games (MUD)  “chat interface” to support social interaction  Iteratively extract texts that can be read with a screen reader  Command based interaction supports interaction with large amounts of objects & Avatars (“give my flower to jane”, “sit on chair”)
  39. 39. TextSL features  Commands in 3 categories:  Exploration (move / fly / teleport / follow / describe /where)  Communication (say / whisper / mute,.....)  Interaction (sit, touch.....)  Notable features:  Natural language (go / travel / walk all map to “move” ) increasing learnability. Interpreter allows for prepositions and adjectives “give my chair to...”  Collision free navigation. e.g. “Move forward 100”  Summarizer aims to minimize the amount of feedback provided to avoid overwhelming the user with feedback.
  40. 40. User Studies  Compare TextSL with SL  8 Sighted & 8 Screen reader users  Tasks in 3 categories + tutorial  Measure success rate & performance times  TextSL has same succesrate as SL viewer for performing tasks (accessibility)  Exploration & Interaction significantly slower (usability)  Communication the same.  Command based interface is a feasible approach
  41. 41. Lessons Learned  Research contributions:  Haptic feedback is a viable strategy for making music based games accessible to VI.  Popular game genres can be made switch accessible by automating, reducing or making it switch accessible but it involves significant tradeoffs with regard to the gameplay. For a number of popular game genres we now understand these tradeoffs.  Virtual worlds are different from Video games and require a different strategy to make them accessible to VI. A command-based interface is a feasible approach.  lack of meta data for objects in SL
  42. 42. Questions? A description of all research projects & media (video/ downloads) can be found on http://www.eelke.com